Killzone 2 Review: War is Beautiful
The tagline for “Killzone 2″ is “War perfected.” While perfection is a tall order to fulfill for any game in any genre, “Killzone 2″ comes refreshingly close. Since its infamous debut trailer back at E3 in 2005, “Killzone 2″ has had enormous shoes to fill. So, could Guerrilla Games actually meet the ambitious expectancies of gamers across the globe? Rest easy PS3 owners, as “Killzone 2″ improves upon nearly every aspect of the FPS genre, and, in doing so, becomes an early frontrunner for 2009’s game of the year.
The story of “Killzone 2″ is epic. You play as Sergeant Thomas “Sev” Sevchenko, and you and you team, Alpha squad, are sent to the Helghast homeworld to help take down their leader, Scolar Visari. You will be aided by familiar characters, like Rico (Killzone) and Evelyn (Killzone: Liberation). You’ll also be taking orders from Colonel Jan Templer, who’s the main protagonist of both the PS2 and PSP entries. While many of the characters from previous games have returned, playing those games is not integral to enjoying “Killzone 2″.
Throughout the game you will explore vastly different areas of Helghan and each one is just as enjoyable as the next. Whether you on a mining train speeding to a Helghan refinery, or in the midst of a dilapidated, war-torn palace in search of Visari, you will always feel like you’re exploring someplace new. The levels in “Killzone 2″ are nicely varied, and they collectively give you an overall sense that each area you encounter was detrimental into the survival of the Helghan universe. Another nice touch is the condition of the planet. By the time you and your squad mates step foot on Helgan, you realize that vast amounts of war have already ensued, and the planet seems as though it could be torn in half at any moment. One final note on the story is that the cutscenes are major in scope. One of “Killzone 2’s” greatest assets is it’s ability to show fantastic cutscenes, where a lot is going on, and suddenly drop you into those intense situations, making you feel like your playing a movie.
Gameplay can be described in one word; innovative. “Killzone 2″ introduces a cover system that, at first, feels rushed and difficult to adapt to, (especially for those still playing “Resistance 2″). But by the end of the game you are forced to master its intricacies, and I soon found myself utilizing the cover system to the fullest extent. While the controls will take a bit getting used to, there are some variations provided, but none that seem to feel as adept to the game’s challenges as the default controls. If anything, it’s nice to at least have the option of different controls available.
Sev has a plethora of weapons available at his disposable during his time spent on Helghan. And while some are your average run-of-the-mill FPS artillery, others truly impress. The bolt gun rounds not only dig into an enemy’s flesh, but propel him many feet backwards into the air. And to add the proverbial cherry on top, the round explodes once the body hits the ground. The electricity gun fries anyone in sight, and while it seems a bit overpowered, it’s undeniably entertaining to use. Flamethrowers, RPG’s, grenades; “Killzone 2″ does not disappoint, and for the most part, there is an incredible balance between each of the weapons. However, this does bring up a major annoyance. You are allowed to carry two weapons at all times, but one must always be some sort of pistol or magnum. While these “peashooters” do contain infinite ammo, you would unlikely use them given the large array of better weapons at your disposal. Perhaps the developers thought the game would be too easy being able to carry two weapons of your choice. Whatever the case, it can be a distraction, and a fatal one on the harder difficulties.
Speaking of difficulty, “Killzone 2″ delivers. The AI of the Helghasts is phenomenal. They communicate, constantly use cover, and deploy in groups that will force you back into corners. “Killzone 2″ is not for the inexperienced gamer, however, if you go through at the medium difficulty setting, and make sure to utilize the cover system, you may just see the end. Sadly, part of the difficulty is due to design choices that can really be frustrating during harder parts of the game. Since you’re encouraged to use the cover system, you’ll also being spending a majority of time behind walls, unable to see what your enemies are doing. So, whenever an enemy fires a grenade or RPG at you (which usually means instant death), you will likely be unable to see the incoming threat, and die as a result. Again, this becomes increasingly annoying on the harder difficulties, but it also becomes something you learn to deal with.
All that said, the single player campaign is truly remarkable. Excellent pacing, gripping story and numerous thrills are all present, but if that isn’t enough, multiplayer will keep you going for months to come. Bots are included and add a nice touch. While various modes are offered, your traditional deathmatch is still where you’ll find the most fun.
Killzone 2 does have its problems, but they’re so few and far between in an overall remarkable package that they’re barely worth mentioning. “Killzone 2″ takes the FPS genre, and improves upon it in almost every single way. From its onset the game delivers constant thrills and is a real showcase for what the PS3 is capable of. “Killzone 2″ is not only a FPS to be in awe of, it’s an exclusive you should be proud to own.